KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan --
When Sgt. Judy Hunziker, a maintenance administration clerk with Marine Attack Squadron 513, last saw her brother, she was on pre-deployment leave in the comfort of her hometown of Colorado Springs, Colo.
As with any military goodbye, it could have been anyone’s guess as to when the siblings would see each other again. But fate, and in this case the U.S. military, had that particular moment planned.
Hunziker and her brother George, a U.S. Army sergeant who serves as an infantryman with the 2nd Brigade of the 4th Infantry Division, reunited at Kandahar Airfield in Afghanistan, May 30.
Judy, a U.S. Marine deployed with her squadron to Kandahar, said she was shocked when she found out her brother was coming to the airfield, en route to a combat outpost in Kandahar province.
“I’ve always joked that if I saw my brother here, that I didn’t care who was in front of me, I’d push them out of my way,” she said. “It was overwhelming, seeing a face I saw every day growing up, in a country a world away. It felt like a piece of home.”
Luckily, Judy didn’t have to knock anyone down to greet her brother. Instead she greeted him with a hug.
“It’s kind of touching, to be honest with you,” said Army Spc. David Gose, a fellow infantryman and friend of George’s. “When they saw each other, she hugged him, for like five minutes, and wouldn’t let go. Sgt. Hunziker asked every Marine he saw where she was located; he was on a mission to find her while we were here.”
Even if the Hunzikers didn’t wear matching nametags, it’d be hard not to deduce the two are siblings. While Judy is the more talkative of the pair, both wear a warm smile to compliment friendly eyes and are quick to laugh.
The Hunziker siblings come from a military family, with a father who served in the Army as a mortarman for 12 years and a grandfather who served as a Naval officer.
And both George and Judy said their family history was a significant factor in their decision to join the military.
“My father is my role model,” said George. “I wanted to follow our family’s military history.”
“I wanted to be like my father, but decided to join a different branch,” she said. “My father, he tells us every day, he reminds us how proud he is, he also likes to thank us for our service.”
Even so, the two said it was a surprise to all when they enlisted. George had long hair with braids while Judy described herself as “a free spirit liberal arts student who hated the military.”
“After I went to George’s boot camp graduation at Fort Benning, Ga., I had an epiphany,” she added.
Brother and sister mostly smiled during their reunion, but they were also acutely aware of the roles they play in Afghanistan. Recently, their brother, another soldier, was sent home from deployment with an injury he sustained in a vehicle roll-over. George wears a bracelet in memory of fellow soldiers who have paid the ultimate price in combat, “gone but not forgotten”, as he put it.
George said goodbye to his sister in the predawn hours of June 2, when Kandahar Airfield was finally quiet enough to allow such affairs. Judy expects them to laugh together again next year.
“Now that I’ve seen him, I feel physically safer,” said Judy. “He told me the day he was leaving for Afghanistan he felt he couldn’t protect me anymore. I told him he was in my strongest thoughts, and that he anything he could do as a soldier, I felt I could do as a Marine.”